Footwear retailer Payless has relaunched into the North American market after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and shuttering over 2,000 stores in early 2019. The discount shoe chain announced in a press release that with this relaunch it's unveiling an immersive e-commerce platform as well as new brick-and-mortar retail concept stores. In the release, Payless CEO Jared Margolis explained that the brand is coming back at a time when Americans need value items more than ever.
The e-commerce site is up and running, and Payless plans to open 300 to 400 standalone stores nationwide over the next three years to five years, beginning with the launch of the first prototype store in Miami, the new headquarters for the brand. The stores will include smart mirrors, touchscreen wall panels, and a first-of-its-kind augmented reality foot comparison chart.
Total Retail's Take: Payless filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection less than two years after it emerged from its first bankruptcy. At the time, the retailer struggled with a heavy debt burden and its e-commerce site wasn't productive enough even as many consumers were switching to online shopping. In 2019, Payless made the decision to close all of its U.S. and Canadian stores, and lay off 16,000 employees. The retailer, however, did keep all of its stores open that are outside of North America. Now the company has emerged from bankruptcy protection and chosen a new management team, including Margolis as the new CEO. Margolis is right that now more than ever, Americans need value and discount items, with many reeling from the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite filing for bankruptcy protection, Payless did have a strong customer base prior to closing its U.S. stores. It will be interesting to see if new management, an updated in-store experience (with the help of technology), and an e-commerce refresh will be able to lure back consumers.
Ashley Chiaradio is the Senior Content Strategist at Total Retail. Ashley has been creating content for more than 7 years, and provides a unique insight in covering the retail industry having worked directly for retailers in the past. She’s passionate about profiling women leadership in the space.